OCN Blizzard head coach Clay DeBray admitted that his captain, Tyler Grove, surprised him. DeBray spoke to Grove two or three times about a trade this past season, but despite every possible reason to leave, Grove remained committed to OCN.
Tyler Grove is a 20-year-old hockey player who finished his final year of junior this past season. It was a great career, but his head coach, a Saskatchewan school teacher named Clay DeBray, thought that maybe Grove would like to play for a team with a chance to win the Manitoba Junior Hockey League championship.
The Blizzard were rebuilding and Grove could have been moved to Dauphin or even his own home town of Selkirk for the playoff run.
“It kind of amazed me, but every time we asked him, he said, ‘No, I want to stay in OCN,’” said DeBray, whose team finished the season 20-36-6. “We struggled all year and obviously at the trade deadline, we decided to go with younger guys.
“We moved four very good players – Wilson Dumais, Damien Kulynych, Suede Omeasso, who is playing really well in Steinbach, and T.J. Constant – to get younger guys and build for the future. We had a number of teams ask about Tyler, so we went to him and left it in his hands. Every time, he turned down the trade because he wanted to finish his career with OCN. He’s an amazing kid.”
Tyler Grove, was the leading goal scorer in the MJHL with 41. He finished second in scoring with 75 points – a full 26 points behind league-leading scorer Parker Thomas of the Selkirk Steelers – but on a team that had trouble scoring and winning, Grove was an anomaly. A small, fast, skilled player, he could always make things happen in the offensive zone.
“I just love to play and have fun,” said Grove, with a wide smile. “I loved playing in OCN. I played all of my minor hockey in Selkirk, right up until I was 16 and moved to Winnipeg to play city Triple A midget for the Hawks. I loved to play in Selkirk. I started my junior career there, but when I was traded to OCN, I fell in love with the place.”
At only 5-foot-9, 170-pounds, he’s not very big, but he has incredible speed and plenty of skill and this past season, he found himself on OCN’s No. 1 line with Grant Valiquette and Anthony Agner-Bouchard. Grove has been called both a “goal-scorer” and “high-energy player,” and he not only wouldn’t shy away from those handles, he relished them.
“Sure, I am a high-energy player. That’s part of what I bring to the team,” he said. “But I’m also a goal scorer. I have speed and pretty good hands. My speed and my ability to score are my greatest gifts.”
His gifts have already caught the eye of a number of U.S. and Canadian universities who would be interested in having a player of Grove’s caliber. According to DeBray, the University of Manitoba has shown some interest “along with a number of Division III schools in the United States.
Grove, however, is certain about what he’ll decide to do.
“I’m really not too sure what I’m going to do,” Grove said. “I’m just playing it by ear. I’ve had a couple of universities talk to me so I might play CIS next year and then again, I’ve also thought about going to work with the Hydro.
“I haven’t really decided because I don’t want to leave OCN. The place is spectacular. Everything they’ve done for me has been outstanding and that’s why I turned down trades so I could finish my career here.
“That’s why, if I can get on with the Hydro, it would mean I wouldn’t have to leave the region and I’d really like to stay here. I don’t know, I change my mind week to week. Let’s just say I haven’t made a decision yet.”
A skilled player with all sorts of talent, Grove would be a perfect fit at any Division 1 or CIS school. Too bad there are no Division 1 or CIS schools at Opaskwayak Cree Nation. For Tyler Grove, that would be the perfect fit.